Gear Guy

Any advice for desert camping?

I camp in the desert in the winter when temperatures can range from zero to 90. My main concern is the wind, which can be downright chilling but also kick up sand. I'm looking for a tent that will shed wind and also not flap like the sail of a 12-meter yacht when it tacks. I'd really like to sleep without the noise. Can you suggest a suitable three- or two-person tent, preferably something on the roomier side? Chip Cairo, Egypt

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If you’re in Egypt, Chip, I guess you do camp in the desert. Certainly, cool temps are an issue in the desert, as is wind and a barrage of sand. It’s a tough test for a tent. And I understand your point of view—I hate the sound of a tent flapping in the wind.

Of course, tents are inherently wind-vulnerable. After all, they’re no more than light fabric stretched over a frame of aluminum poles. The tent canopy usually fits pretty snugly, but the fly can be a problem. Plus, a three-person tent is larger than a two-person (well, duhB), so presents a bigger target= for the wind.

Marmot’s The Loft 3P ($349; is a three-person tent with excellent ventilation and vestibules that have a support pole, which should help stabilize the tent. Same for Mountain Hardwear’s Hammerhead 3 ($295; I also like Sierra Designs’ new Super Nova ($369;, a sturdy three-person tent.

That said, any tent will flap some in high winds. Setup will make a big difference. Invest in a half-dozen small nylon bags (about the size of a bread bag) and some strong cord. At the campsite, fill the bags with sand, attach the cords to the bag and to the tent’s guy-out points, and bury the bags with the cord pulled taut. That will be of considerable help in stabilizing the tent. Also take pains to ensure that the tent is set on ground that’s as level as you can make it. One twist in the tent frame will cause some parts of the fabric cover to hang loosely, increasing their tendency to flap.

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